Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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#Change or die! A paper from #FastCompany

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

How resistant people can be? FastCompany published some time ago a very interesting paper on that topic. The paper relates a study done on people in danger od dying because of their overweight and bad eating habits (paper available here).

People would think that when one’s in clear and imminent danger of death, one would be more likely to change? The response is surprisingly “no”.

Just telling someone they need to change is not enough to make them change, even in the face of a personal death risk.

People need to be coached out of their current habits and into the new ones for the change to be sustained with time.

Should I refer to the PDCA model (Shewhart or Deming circle – Yes, I know PDCA is from Shewhart, but a lot of people still thinks it’s Deming’s invention. Hence the two names)… Back to PDCA, I would say that:

  • a lot of energy is expended in the Plan phase, often without too much consideration to whether tghe plan is acceptable for people or maybe just easily feasible. There’s Ashby’s law of requisite variery at play here (stuff for another post byt I’ve already mentioned the Viable System Model as usueable for change)
  • then, as the Plan was not that much adapted to the variety of the things that need to be changed, a lot more of energy needs to be expanded into forcing the Plan down the throat of employees (hint: may this be the cause of employees choking?). Some says it’s the “Do” phase…
  • when we’ve gone through the two preceding phases (and assuming the change did attain its objective), there’s usually not much energy left for Checking the results. Moreover, if the objectives has been attained, there’s nothing to check, as it’s ok, right? Should the objective not been attained, who’s willing to check and hurt oneself in the process (shoot oneself in the foot)?
  • lastly, I guess nobody even considers doing the Act or Adjust phase. Should we get there, some changed already occurred, and “people just need to copy what’s been successful in the pilot team”. Only the other people will suffer the “not invented here” syndrome: because the plan has been forced onto the pilot team, it’s adapted to them. Not to the rest of the organization (requisite variety again, plus people not been involved in it’s conception). Should the initial plan failed, who’s going to throw money at studying a dead body to understand what went wrong? There’s business to do, no time to fiddle with a dead corpse. Move on!

So, how do get that plan into place? I’d say there are at least two possibilities I can see today: one of them is using the famous Kotter model of change in 8 steps or change your paradigm and let the very people of your organization define and conduct the change that’s needed: Appreciative Inquiry is good for that.

Regarding John Kotter, I’ve just read “Our iceberg is melting“: a short novel about change in a penguin colony, very entertaining and explanatory of the model.

Regarding Appreciative Inquiry, that’s a whole domain in itself, please check the Appreciative Inquiry Commons where there’s a lot of material available for free.

May certainty help #PDCA and #Lean?

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , , , ,

It occurred to me that uncertainty may hinder continuous improvement because it prevents action.

Consequently, people who are somewhat certain of their opinions are more willing to act and thus experiment and learn which are two root causes of improvement.

Of course, that implies that certain people are also willing to admit their errors when they act and things don’t happen as they expected. This is the purpose of Checking one’s actions and Adjusting if things went wrong (as in Shewhart/Deming‘s Plan-Do-Check-Adjust PDCA). (When things go well, it’s then time to turn the action into a new standard and diffuse it to whoever might benefit from it – in Lean, this is yokoten.)

Socrates said that you need to act to know if you’re right or not, for if you don’t act you’ll never know.

So, make up your mind, decide and act!

But always remember that you should be knowing just one thing: that you never know (until you act!)

How come #systemsthinking discussions diverge so often?

Pondering on the often out of topic discussions on the LinkedIn Group Systems Thinking World, I came up to this diagram during coffee with colleagues. I guess they’re not going to take coffee with me anytime soon :-/

As you can see, there are only reinforcing loops. The sole balancing loop is in fact preventing the initial topic from being further investigated. The explanation goes something as follow:

  • B1: when the initial topic is discussed, it triggers comments from people given their personal centers of interest, which of course, because the centers of interest are so different, this makes the discussion diverges, which reduces the focus on the initial topic.
  • R1: this first reinforcing loop describes the fact that the more there is divergence in the discussion, the more this triggers further personal centers of interest being mentioned in the discussion, which makes the discussion diverges further and thus make more people to react.
  • R2: Sometimes, someone in the discussion tries to come back to the initial topic, though, most often, through some personal path. So we have a new path which can trigger further comments from other personal topics of interest (I did not show that the new path, although related to the initial topic, could trigger other centers of interest – this is embedded in the new description of the initial topic; a case of fixe the fails, I think).
  • R3: the comments from different personal centers of interest increase the systems thinking view of things (provided there has been some initial interest, but even then, interest can be awaken), which reinforces the link to other centers of interest, which further the comments from different points of view. This loop somewhat describes the self-reinforcing curiosity of systems thinkers.
  • R4 shows the fact that these other centers of interest can also add to the divergence in the mind of the people participating in the discussion

Hopefully, some group rules are being researched that could help in maintaining a discussion going in the initial intended discussion (create a web place where regular summaries of the discussions could be posted, do some Dialogue Mapping, perhaps using InsightMaker which added this functionality just recently).

Reblog: Compassionate #Coaching Evokes Better Results | Business News Daily (#appreciativeinquiry)

Here is a very interesting article on BusinessNewsDaily about coaching people for a positive vision, backed with research on brain imagery: Compassionate Coaching Evokes Better Results | Business News Daily.

Coincidentally (or not?), the research was done at Case Western Reserve University, home of Appreciative Inquiry.

Applications in parenting and management is cited in the article.

New #TWI Materials #mindmap uploaded to @biggerplate

January 18th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

The corresponding mindmap has been uploaded and is now downloadable and viewable from Biggerplate. Content has been reviewed with help from Mark Warren, chief archivist for the Training Within Industry Yahoo Mailing list. Thanks Mark!

For more about this, please re-read my preceding article on TWI materials.

#systemsthinking view of lack of decision making from #management

January 18th, 2011 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: , , ,

I had a morning coffee discussion with colleagues about some lack of commonly decision taking occurring in companies. We proposed that it might be a cultural bias of people here not to easily trust people, but I feel the system at play could be the same for every country. Only if we would develop a more thorough model, with quantitative value, we could probably have different coefficient corresponding to different cultures.

Anyway, here is the systemic diagram I came to, which you are free to comment below, of course!

The explanations Read more »

Questions we should ask ourselves to raise awareness of #systemsthinking

January 14th, 2011 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags:

I’ve asked this question during december 2010. People in the systems Thinking World LinkedIn group proposed questions and then voted for them at SurveyMonkey.

I’ve finally managed to collect results and sort them based on answers to the survey. Here are they. I plan to ask these questions, top to down, during the next weeks in order to try to advance the subject on the LinkedIn group.
Comments welcomed!
Questions are ordered from most preferred to less preferred. I’ve grouped them by 5 only for clarity.

Nine different #TWI summary cards available in modern format

January 12th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

TWI created some pocket summary cards for all their training programs:

  • Job Instruction
  • Job Methods
  • Job Relations
  • Program Development

But there’s been some other cards as well. Thanks to Mark Warren who provided the scans, I’ve turned all those cards into modern versions (wording exactly as original, except for © that sometimes was removed due to lack of space).

All the preceding cards are available in PDF, plus some other cards too that you might not have known about:

  • Using Job Instruction (a guide for second line supervisors)
  • Management Problem Solving
  • Conference Leading: How to run a conference
  • Conference Leading: How to prepare for a conference
  • Discussion Leading

All these files are available on the TWI Yahoo Mailing list in the files section. Please note that you need to subscribe to the list in order to access the files; that’s a good thing since there are interesting discussions going on!

Don’t push #Lean onto #management: #coach them to pull it from you

Morning thought: I occurs to me that Lean consultants (whether internal or external) often try to push a Lean transformation onto management and most often (98% of the time) fail due to so called “change resistance”.

But it’s no wonder people resist when you try to force something onto them.

The paradox here lies in the fact that Lean experts have a detailed vision in mind of how to do it and what the final objective might be (Yeah, I know Lean is a trip and not a destination, but a one piece flow throughout the company makes for a kind of objective for me).

The problem for me is that Lean people try to force management into a vision that they don’t have in mind. Even when it’s an intellectually convincing vision, since it has not been grown inside management’s heads, they won’t accept it.

Aristotle said that to convince someone you need to use (in that order I think):

  • ethos: who you are and what credibility lies in you and your message
  • logos: what you’re going to say and whether it’s logicial and intellectually sound or not
  • pathos: an appeal to the audience’s emotions.

So, to convince people, you need to be credible, be clear in your explanation… and make people feel they want it. Not just need it. You need something from intellect. You want it from emotion. And what’s better than building a vision for creating emotions?

That’s probably why waste walks with a coach/senseï work so well. Or seeing a Lean place (or building a model line if you can) and, more than ever, continually:

  • going to the gemba to see what happen by yourself (second hand reports are intellectual, not emotional unless the reporter is good at storytelling);
  • looking at the process (not just wandering around);
  • talking to the people… just because emotions will come from interacting with others!

So, there’s no need to try to push the whole Lean management system onto management people. It’s complex and overwhelming. Bounded rationality will have them fly away (if not the double-bind you’re creating by doing so).

I think that proper coaching could help management emotionally connect with their people and see how they could help them fix the broken processes they’re trapped into. People love helping and teaching others. Only you need to provide them with the required skilled to do so (skill in the job and skill in teaching/coaching). TWI understood this long time ago. And it’s only when everybody’s started to take care of their work environment that I think you can teach them to connect processes to create a (one-piece) flow.

Comments?

Why I feel #TWI documents are important for #Lean

January 11th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: ,

There’s a lot of excellent documents about the links between Lean and TWI archives. Probably the best of them all is “Root of Lean” from Jim Huntzinger.

We all know how it is difficult to change a company from traditional management to a Lean management organization. Unless you’re the CEO of that company, you’re doomed to fail. And even then success is never a given: it’s an ongoing struggle.

Still, not all of the people interested in Lean are CEO. Indeed, far from it. We have a whole bunch of consultants trying to Lean us and some internal people (like me) interested in Lean that see it as a clever and powerful way to improve

  • the customer experience,
  • the stakeholders’ purses
  • AND, last but not least, the employees experience.

And the magic being that it’s possible because all these three things go hand in hand. Should you see this as a zero-sum game, you’d probably fail to do Lean.

Lean is indeed a positive sum game. The more you improve one aspect of an organization, the more the other aspects should improve accordingly.

During World War II, companies needed a quick way to improve war production. That resulted in the TWI 4 programs (job instruction, job methods, job relations and program development). At the end of the war, these methods were not seen as needed as before and were somewhat forgotten (read the Roots of Lean documents to know more). Yet, they were imported to and used in Japan, especially at the young Toyota Motors company.

And that’s precisely where my personal interest in these documents is: in their status as “roots of Lean”. Because Lean evolved partly out of them, I’m interested in the learning path that may exist from TWI to Lean. For anybody that read a bit about Lean and TWI, it’s evident that TWI is simpler than Lean. And what’s fortunate for us is that they documented all their experiences and updated the different manual to reflect this.

People try to copy Toyota. It’s both a good and a bad thing because Toyota is so advanced in Lean: it’s a very good model, but also a very difficult one to replicate. By studying TWI I hope to find a maybe less sophisticated continuous improvement method but one that should be easier to start and sustain. Plus, there’s all the knowledge experience accumulated by the TWI representatives and available in the different versions of the manuals with plenty of useful dos and don’ts about setting a TWI program in a company. TWI is for me a sort of complete “how to” setup manual for improving management in companies. Upon understanding how to setup TWI programs, I hope to have an easier way to transform that into Lean.

What we have in TWI are:

  • a Management Contact Manual explaining what needs to be secured before starting anything else related to the TWI programs.
  • training manuals for trainers
  • training the trainers (“Institute”) manuals
  • reference cards
  • a method for coaching (securing training)
  • and a method explaining How to Get Continuing Results.

Plus, the results have been documented since the beginning and it worked. Moreover, it seems to be that TWI’s approach worked a lot more better than current Lean change management approaches in use today. Of course we have different conditions. But I definitively think TWI’s documents are worth studying.

Should you be interested in TWI, please join the Yahoo mailing list and the LinkedIn group.

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